Is it depression or is it anxiety? Here's how to understand your emotions

Updated on Jul 17, 2022 01:36 PM IST

People often are confused between depression and anxiety but mental health experts point out that all depression is not anxiety. Here's how to understand your emotions

Is it depression or is it anxiety? Here's how to understand your emotions (Alex Green)
Is it depression or is it anxiety? Here's how to understand your emotions (Alex Green)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Emotions are psychological states that include subjective, physiological and behavioural elements and in normal language usage, the noun "feeling" is often used as being the same as emotion but people often are confused between depression and anxiety. However, feeling is a technical term that means a generalised bodily consciousness of a physiological sensation and mental health experts point out that all depression is not anxiety.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Richa Vashsista, Chief Mental Health Expert at AtEase, explained, “A mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life is depression whereas intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations is anxiety where fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and feeling tired may occur.”

She added, “Depression and anxiety can co-exist at times - anxiety can be a symptom of one's depression and it is also common to have depression triggered by constant anxiety or a panic disorder. The difference between depression and anxiety is that depression causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness and reduced energy. Anxiety creates feelings of nervousness, worry or dread.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Preeti Parakh, Psychiatrist and Head at MPower the Centre in Kolkata, elaborated, “Depression refers to a mood state where sadness, apathy and lethargy are predominant. Anxiety is a state where worrying and fearfulness are predominant. Anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms like palpitations, sweating, tremors, restlessness and so on. It is possible for depressed people to be anxious as well. Similarly, people with significant anxiety often experience sadness as well but all depressed people are not anxious and vice versa.”

Talking of how to seek support, Richa Vashsista advised, “If you are experiencing symptoms, seek help from social support, psychologists and psychiatrists. Developing a self-care practice and taking care of yourself can also help in managing symptoms.”

According to Dr Preeti Parakh, when it comes to treatment of anxiety and depression, most medicines are equally effective in both situations and so is psychotherapy, though there are a few differences in the techniques used. She recommended, “For people who are wondering whether they have anxiety or depression, my advice is that both conditions, if significant enough to disrupt daily life, require professional help and should not be neglected. Therefore, the emphasis should be on seeking treatment rather than splitting hairs on the diagnosis.”

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